A special contribution to the DSDN’s blog series…
When the newest blog topic was proposed a few weeks ago by the DSDN’s blog series coordinator, I was stumped! The topic “What surprised you the most?” (about Down syndrome) was intriguing, but the immediate answer that popped into my little brain was….well, EVERYTHING! Which is the truth. I saw none of it coming from Everett’s diagnosis, immediate reactions from healthcare providers, friends, family and acquaintances, my reaction to it, how it changed me to the core in an instant, how it deepened my faith….I could go on and on. And quite frankly, that’s exactly what I do on this blog, a lot! But I guess if I had to pick the one thing that really stands out, out of all of the surprises related to Everett’s diagnosis, I’d have to address my favorite Rockin’ dad. So, in honor of this month’s blog topic, I’d like to offer a little tribute to my true partner in crime, the man, the myth, the legend, Everett’s dad, Liam’s dad, the hubs, etc….Vic.
Ode to a Rockin’ Dad
Confession – if you enter a marriage sans children, you really don’t know how your spouse will embrace parenthood, should that opportunity arise. Vic and I dated for five years before we got engaged. We were engaged for a little over a year when we got hitched, and we celebrated our second wedding anniversary just a few weeks after Everett was born. So, prior to having our first child, we knew each other really well! I have this little theory that every couple should know each other through all four seasons before making a big commitment. Vic and I dated through many a season, but other than caring for our two fur babies and a niece or two (between the two of us we have SIX nieces!), we had never observed one another through the “season” of parenthood prior to starting our family. And knowing how another person parents, prior to committing to a lifelong, contractual relationship with another seems like a pretty big deal to me – but alas, how does one come to gather this information when children come after the vows? Observation, that’s how. And thus far I have observed many things about Vic’s parenting style from the very beginning, mere moments after Everett was born: 1). It was very obvious to me that Vic immediately fell in love with every aspect of Everett. And although there were some initial concerns and fears related to Ev’s diagnosis (which is normal), I noted that Vic loved and accepted him, just the way he was…instantly. Most people struggle with the diagnosis. I know I did. Vic opened his heart to everything that came with Everett quickly after the two best friends met for the first time. And I observed the same connection with Li as Vic fed him his first bottle moments after he was born. 2). Vic is a very caring and involved father and husband. He’s right up there with some of the greatest.
There are stories out there…I hear them…of a lot of couples struggling in their marriages as they discover their new roles and responsibilities as parents. And don’t get me wrong, Vic and I…like any other couple…experience our struggles. I would submit to you, though, the second they handed little newborn Everett over to us, we instantly snapped into our roles as Everett’s parents without blinking an eye. It just clicked, and we knew instinctively what each of us needed to do as new parents and as new parents of a child with a disability. During a very tough time, when we were receiving a lot of unexpected news about our firstborn son, we instantly banded together. With very few words to aid in the process, we were in lockstep with one another. As a matter of fact, the only squabble I can recall in those early days and hours after Everett was born, was who got to feed him and/or change him!!!
So as much as I champion being a Rockin’ mom on this blog…just know…I’ve got a Rockin’ dad backing up my every move. I am very lucky, in that I have seen fatherhood modeled by some of the best. My dad went above and beyond his generation of dads, coaching my little league teams, making me “snack packs” before every basketball game or tournament, baking outstanding cheesecakes for my birthday (I could go on and on, Dad is amazing). His dad, Grandaddy, models fatherhood daily by being a support to his kids, grandkids, and now GREAT grandkids well into his 80th decade. And you talk about modeling compassionate fatherhood well before his time? If only you could have met my mom’s dad, my Papaw. He was the stuff fatherly legends are truly made of. Loving, caring, hard-working, wise beyond his years, and a spiritual figurehead. Every blog entry I post, every bible verse that surges through my thoughts in a given day, can all be traced back to his spiritual mentoring and leadership.
And Vic? He’s right up there with these fathers in my book. This sounds a little creepy but I wish I could follow him around with a video camera for a day and document ALL that he does for his boys. He makes and serves them a hot and healthy breakfast every morning (complete with vitamin supplements). He takes them both to school and drops them off in separate classrooms. He has to take Everett to “potty” before class every morning to keep the potty-training habit up! And if I need help with any kind of appointment for either child (just keeping it real – these appointments are usually for Ev) – Vic is right there to fill in for me. I remember when I started back to work after Everett was born, I was feeling a little overwhelmed while attempting to balance a full-time gig and finishing my dissertation with all of Everett’s therapy appointments. Without hesitating, Vic stepped up and took over all speech therapy appointments and homework. I never had to ask him…he just said he was going to do it, and he followed through. And I can always count on Vic to get up early, pack the cars & bags, and help prepare for any road trip or family outing we’re about to embark on. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many small and large tasks that he accomplishes daily and weekly to keep this family running smoothly. He’s a true Rockin’ dad and husband in my book.
And I know without a doubt….that Everett adores him. Ev has a tendency to pick “favorites” among his people…and it is very obvious to the naked eye…that Vic is his favorite person. Liam loves his dad too (Liam specifically requests that daddy read the bedtime story each evening when given a chance), but Ev just can’t get enough snuggles, hugs, and fist bumps from his main man, Dad. So from Ev and the rest of us – we love you, Vic! It has been such a joyful surprise to watch you unconditionally love our boys. Thank you for all that you do to keep this family happy and healthy. And cheers to the rest of the Rockin’ dads out there…may you surpass your wive’s expectations and keep rockin’ as dads to your precious kiddos :).
Sometimes the most shocking surprises are also the most beautiful surprises.